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Wildlife Friendly Hedging

The RSPB have carefully selected a range of wildlife friendly hedging, grown peat-free so that no damage is done to the environment. 

Hedging provides a home for a multitude of wildlife including birds, insects and other small animals, as well as being a valuable food source. For hedgehogs, frogs and other animals hedging allows access between gardens, which fencing sometimes doesn't provide . 

These specially selected hedges are a great way to give wildlife a home in your garden. Bare root hedging is available from the RSPB shop from November to mid-April.

Why Buy Bare Root Plants
  • Bare Root plants are the most cost effective way to plant a new hedge due to the fact they cost less to grow and transport than pot grown hedging.
  • They are grown in a natural environment, exposed to the weather conditions that a hedge would experience in its permanent position. This growing method allows these plants to grow naturally until they are removed from the ground when they are dormant. These established, healthy and sturdy plants are therefore available for purchase from November until late April and sometimes into early May.
Planting Bare Roots
  • The weather has brightened up, the soil is soft and manoeuvrable, and so it’s time to plant your bare root plants. Calculating the right distance between each plant is the next stage to ensure your hedge plants have sufficient space to grow and your final hedge will have the perfect structure.
  • Preparing your site prior to your plants arrival is recommended. Protect your new plants by thoroughly weeding the area by around 20/30cm each side of your planned hedge line and continue this for the first year. Following this, dig a trench or a sequence of holes that are as deep as the roots of your plants and twice the width. The number of plants alongside the length of area will outline your planting distances, which can be measured with a ruler or a number of evenly spaced canes. The ongoing argument of whether to plant in a single or a staggered row is based on your personal preference and the ideal thickness you would like you finished hedge to be. Generally we recommend fairly dense planting for a hedge that will give protection to small animals and birds – so 5 per metre in a single row or 7 in a double staggered row, but larger plants (above 90cm) will not need quite so many.
  • Do not worry about the unconventional appearance of these plants as they are sold with the roots exposed, rather than in soil. So at first glance, they do not look like the stereotypical plant you can pick up at your local garden centre. As the roots are exposed, it’s best to plant as soon as possible to reduce any damage to the unprotected root system.
  • Bare roots require plenty of water before planting. Soak both the plants and the prepared growing area with water before letting the soil drink in the moisture. Place the plants into the prepared area, backfilling and firming the soil around them, making sure the roots are fully covered and the plants are not too deep or shallow. They should be planted to the same depth from which they were taken from the ground initially, you may be able to see the original soil mark, usually just above the uppermost roots.
  • Again, make certain your plants are getting plenty of water as this closes any air gaps in the soil that may have been missed during the backfilling process.
  • An easier, less time consuming planting method, known as “notch planting”, is also suitable for bare root plants. Again, start by removing any weeds from the surrounding area and avoid difficult weather conditions. ‘Notch planting’ consists of taking each individual plant, after a sufficient amount of watering, and dropping it into a notch shaped gap. This gap is created by inserting a spade into your desired planting spot, pushing it away with your foot which leaves enough space for the roots of your plants to enter its new position. Finally, firm the soil around the plant base and water in well. This method is suited to those who have a very long stretch of land to fill and have reasonably small plants that can fit easily into the slots made by notching.
Storing Bare Roots
  • Although it is important to get your Bare Root plants into the ground quickly, if weather conditions aren’t conducive to planting, they can be stored in another location, such as a garage or shed, until the weather improves. Avoid waterlogged soil from heavy rain as the surface will become too compressed, hindering any form of root development.
  • When storing Bare Roots, thoroughly drench them before letting them drain and repeat this daily, as exposed roots must be kept moist and can then be kept for up to a week in a cool, sheltered space (like a garage or shed but not a greenhouse which might get too warm) with roots covered by a bag, tarpaulin, hessian or other such material.
  • If the forecast looks like you’re going to need more than a few days to store your bare root plants, an alternative method can be used which gardeners like to call, “heeling in”. This method sees your plants covered by a soft bit of ground such as a vegetable patch or using the excess soil gained when preparing your growing site. If opting for this method, water your plants thoroughly, cover the entire root system and position your plants at a 45 degree angle to avoid them taking permanent root. Compared to inside storage, “heeled in” plants will be able to withstand an extended period of time outside of their final planting position as long as they are properly planted before the beginning of spring.
After Care of Bare Roots
  • After planting, bare root plants require regular watering, particularly during the first spring and summer.
  • Do remember that if the ground does harden due to frost soon after planting, you should check the soil around your plants to see if the soil has any gaps caused by freezing. If so, simply firm in again with the heel of your boot.
  • Pruning bare root plants is completely species dependant, meaning pruning times and techniques differ from one species of plant to another, however it is recommended to give all deciduous hedging plants a trim upon planting to encourage bushy new growth at the base which is so important for the dense structure of a new hedge.
  • Are these hedging plants grown in the UK? Yes, all grown in sandy soil in Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Kent
  • Have the plant varieties been approved by the RSPB? Yes the RSPB Conservation Team have approved the varieties as being good for wildlife. Best4Hedging (our supplier) will be making a donation to the RSPB for every pack sold.
  • What is the delivery timescale? Providing we are in the bare root season (from mid November to mid April or early May), then your bare root plants will be dispatched within a few days of the order being placed. We cannot specify a particular delivery date but you do not need to be at home to sign for the delivery (all parcels are sent “no signature required”) and will be left in a safe place.
  • Is there a plant guarantee against failure? No there isn’t but our supplier have sold these plants for over 10 years and their customers have an excellent success rate. The odd one might fail (as some plants do) but if they are planted properly, kept pretty much weed free and well-watered in the first year, there will be no large scale failure
  • But what if there was a large scale failure? Then our supplier would want to see a photograph of the plants in situ and then assuming they’ve been properly watered and kept weed free, the supplier will replace the failed plants at the beginning of the following bare root season when they are available again. It is an extremely rare occurrence
  • Can I mix the species of hedging together? Yes absolutely, this is very commonly done and has many wildlife benefits – providing food and shelter for a wider diversity of wildlife. The different species will grow at different growth rates so mixed hedging can look a bit untidy in a garden setting but wildlife lovers will be amply rewarded
  • When should I trim my hedging? It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built, so the advice for all hedge trimming is to avoid the period 1 March to 31 July.
  • All other enquiries: enquiries@best4hedging.co.uk